Pilot Awardees (2019-2020)

Jeff Brown, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University School of Medicine
Title of project: CEACAMs in Metaplasia and Oncogenesis
(5/1/18 – 7/31/20)
Dr. Brown is an Instructor in Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology. His funded project will reveal and characterize cathartocytosis, a novel cellular process, required for metaplasia and oncogenesis in several tissues and demonstrate that assaying for this process is both a sensitive and specific tool for identifying premalignant and malignant cellular transformation throughout the GI tract.


 Michael Thompson, MD, PhD, Instructor in Pediatrics
Pediatrics – Endocrinology, Washington University School of Medicine
Title of project: Impact of Maternal Obesity on Bile Acid Homeostasis and Risk for Liver Fibrosis in Offspring
(5/1/18 – 7/31/20)
Dr. Thompson is an Instructor in Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics, Endocrinology. His funded project will characterize bile acid metabolism in mouse offspring exposed to maternal high fat/high sugar diet before and after exposure to fatty liver disease inducing diets. Once a mechanistic link is proven between altered bile acid metabolism after maternal HF/HS diet exposure and risk for NAFLD progression, this information will be used to design bile acid based preventative therapies to prevent disease progression in those patients who are at risk.


James White, PhD, Instructor in Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases, Washington University School of Medicine
Title of project: Role of host immunity and microbiota in flavivirus-induced gastrointestinal dysmotility

(8/1/19 – 7/31/20)
Dr. White is an Instructor in Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. His funded project will investigate the role of anti-viral CD8+ T cell responses and the intestinal microbiota in the development and persistence of GI motility disorders.


Spencer Willet, PhD, Instructor in Medicine
Division of Gastroenterology, Washington University School of Medicine
Title of project: The Role of the Hippo Pathway in Gastric Homeostasis and Metaplasia

(8/1/19 – 7/31/21)
Dr. Willet is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology. His research project and training plan will focus on bioinformatics/biostatistics (for scRNA-seq, RNA-seq, and ChIP-seq), organoid culture, Helicobacter pylori infection, and High-content imaging. The studies proposed in his application will explore how gastric cell identity is controlled and perturbed in injury and disease.